The Importance of Placement in understanding Jyotish
Part One: The Nakshatras
by Hank Friedman
[The priceless tutelage of Hart de Fouw has enabled me to write this article and all of my Vedic writings. Thank you Hart.]
Placement: A Short Review
The manner in which every planet in a chart expresses itself is contingent on its placement.
Factors include a planet’s placement by sign and house, vargas, the houses it rules, the aspects it receives from other planets, and the yogas it participates in.
Let’s examine these one at a time:
1 Placement by Sign.
When a planet occupies its own sign, it is generally very happy.
In Exaltation, its happiness is in part contingent upon its dispositor’s placement and its Navamsha placement, but is usually good.
In a neutral sign, other factors have to be taken into account to assess the planet.
In the sign of an enemy, a planet is generally not fully functional.
And in its sign of Fall, it is weakest and most “cranky”. Neecha Bhanga (amelioration of debilitation) yogas can help.
2. Placement by House.
When a planet is in an Angle (1, 4, 7, 10) or Trine (1, 5, 9) its power and happiness are augmented.
When a planet is in house 2, it has dual qualities of being a Maraka (indicator of potential poverty or death if it’s poorly placed otherwise) and otherwise ok.
In house 3, most planets are ok, and better with time.
In house 11, most planets do well, and especially better with time.
In Dusthana houses, 6, 8, and 12, planets are obstructed and challenged.
In Vargottama (the same sign in the birth chart and Navamsha), the planet can be made stronger, but there are many qualifiers that have to be explored to be certain. (This will be a topic of a future article.)
If a planet is stronger in the Navamsha then in the Rashi chart, this bodes well, but if its much weaker (e.g. Fallen), it’s promise might not be fully realized.
When a planet is strong in many Varga charts, (or even Vargottama or in the same sign in many Varga charts), this uplifts the planet, especially if the planet is exalted or in its own sign in 5 or more Varga charts.
4. Lordship of Houses
As stated in many places, lordship of houses 6, 8, and 12 can create issues for the themes of house the planet occupies.
Lordship of Trinal Houses is the most beneficial, while lordship of Maraka Houses (2, and 7) can be an issue if the planet is otherwise poorly placed.
Relative placement is also important to consider, especially for significators of people. If the ruler of a house representing a person is 6, 8, or 12 houses away from the signified house, then problems can exist.
(Use the 1st for self, 3rd for younger siblings, 4th for mother, 5th for children, 6th for mother’s siblings, 7th for spouse, 9th for father, and 11th for older brother)
5. Aspects the planet receives.
For the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, if any two of these are within one degree of each other in the same sign, both are harmed. This is called a Planetary War.
If any of the above planets are within 6th degrees of the Sun, then they are Combust and weakened (and especially the houses they ruled are impacted). If within 3 degrees or less, this weakness affects all Varga charts, especially during the Combust planet’s Dashas and Bhuktis.
Similarly, if the Moon is within 30 degrees of the Sun (on either side), it is quite weak.
Conversely, if Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn is at least a third of the sky away from the Sun, it becomes Retrograde and therefore stronger. Mercury and Venus are also strengthened if Retrograde.
If a planet is aspected by natural malefics (the Sun, Mars, Saturn, Rahu, or Ketu), it becomes challenged. If aspected by multiple malefics, much more challenged.
There are good yogas and bad yogas.
Good yogas enable a planet to function at a higher level, and the person to have a better life.
Bad yogas hamper the expression of a planet, and give rise to obstacles and issues in a person’s life.
The 27 Nakshatras represent deep themes and qualities in a person’s life. One could call them archetypal. Since each Nakshatra is smaller than a sign, they are even more potent and compelling in influencing the expression of points in them than signs are.
Some Nakshatras are considered very favorable, and others quite unfavorable. But I've come to realize that the placement of the planet in the Nakshatra governs the expression of the Nakshatra.
For example, if a person has prominent point in Ashlesha in their charts, whether it creates problems in their life is largely determined by the point's placement.
In a positive placement, Ashlesha can manifest as deeply capable, focused, discerning, and powerful, but negatively placed, Ashlesha can manifest as alienating, cold, manipulative, unresponsive, and autocratic.
In other words, even the most problematic Nakshatras can behave in very constructive ways if well--placed, and revered Nakshatras cause problems if poorly placed.
In keeping with the theme of this article, here’s the central principle I wish to elucidate:
Any planet, house, sign, or Nakshatra that has a confluently good or bad placement will have will have its expression profoundly altered by that placement.
If we explore the chart of Mohandas Gandhi, the Mahatma (Great Soul) and focus on the house of himself (the First House and the First Lord), we can begin to see what made him great.
The First house and its Lord, going through our placement protocol:
1. Venus, The Lord of the First House, is in its own sign, making it strong.
2. Venus, The Lord of the First House is in its own house, in an Angle, and in a Trine, helping it greatly.
3. Venus is exalted and/or in its own sign in 4 Dasa Vargas and in the sign of a friend in three. And Venus is in its own sign in the Navamsha. That gives Venus great power.
4. Venus rules the First House (and the Eighth House), but First House rulership is foremost and raises it high.
5. Aspects from other planets. Here the principle of “ the strongest planet wins” is important to remember. Venus is aspected by Mercury, Mars and Jupiter. But Mercury and Jupiter have much more strength than Mars and so Venus is primarily aspected by benefics, which again is quite uplifting.
But if we go further and look at Jupiter’s strength in the Varga charts, it is extraordinary. Jupiter is exalted or in its own sign in 6 out of 10 Vargas! That makes it an incredibly powerful benefic, and its aspect on the First House and the First Lord is profoundly positive.
6. Yogas. Remember that good yogas are only notable if at least one of the yoga-forming planets is strong (and conversely, a bad yoga is only really detrimental if one or both yoga-forming planets are very weak.)
The two Raja Yogas formed by Venus and Mercury (L1 with L9 with Lagnesa both a Trinal and Angle Lord) are very potent because both Venus and Mercury (Dig Bala) are strong.
The Malavya Yoga – Venus in an Angle in its own sign – is also superlative.
Having said all of this, if we shift the focus to the Nakshatra of Venus, which is Vishakha, we can apply the aforementioned principle.
Vishakha is a very powerful Nakshatra. It represents an unstoppable person bent upon success no matter what. Ambition, determination, perfectionism, dominance, and assertiveness can easily go awry if the planet in Vishakha is poorly placed. Then the individual is likely to be tyrannical, aggressive, dictatorial, and narcissistic.
But with the blessed placement of Venus, Gandhi manifests the best that Vishakha has to offer: commitment to a higher purpose, endurance against all odds and even brutal opposition, and the highest form of triumph.
Thus a Nakshatra that could so easily foster an incredibly inflamed ego does not, if the placement is very good.
(This reminds me of the insight I read that if a person without any conscience – sociopath – is raised by kind parents, they become a well functioning part of society.)
Readers of my website have noticed that I've explored Trump’s chart many times, but this time we’ll shift the focus to his 12th house and 12th lord.
His 12th house, to begin with, is occupied by two planets in the sign of an enemy, one of which (Saturn) is both a natural and temporal malefic (I.e. ruler of the Dusthana 6th and Maraka 7th) .
Now lets explore our protocol with regard to the 12th lord, the Moon.
1. The Moon is in Fall in Scorpio, which is quite weakening.
2. On the other hand, the Moon is in the 4th house, an Angle that gives it Dig Bala (strengthening).
3. The Moon doesn't get notably uplifted or weakened by its mediocre Varga placement.
4. As ruler of a Dusthana, the 12th, the Moon becomes more problematic.
5. The aspects tilt the Moon sharply towards the negative. One might naively think that because the Moon is Full, it is strengthened, but there’s a major “trump card” negating this: the Eclipse of the Moon. Donald Trump was born close to the time of a Lunar Eclipse.
With the Moon conjunct Ketu, it is paralyzed, obscured, destabilized, and negated. And this is exacerbated by the aspect of a strong Mars upon the Moon. (The Moon is therefore impacted by multiple malefics.)
The almost Kala Sarpa Dosha, vitiated by the Moon beyond Ketu, creates even more challenge for the Moon. This is a fine example of a bad yoga.
There's also a Neecha Bhanga Raja Yoga, with the Moon in an angle aspected by its dispositor Mars. However, while this yoga can give a person unique talents, it doesn't actually reverse the Moon's weakness.
Given that the Moon is in the Nakshatra Jyestha, and has a placement that has enough negative influences to call it bad, let’s explore the “shadow of Jyestha”.
Among the themes we might expect from someone with an important planet in Jyestha are powerfulness, fortitude, strength of will, and an interest in social welfare.
But if the planet, in this case the Moon, is poorly placed in Jyestha, then we could expect to see a person who refuses to listen to or obey anyone, attacks others both publicly and in secret, and is deceptive, unstable, secretive, power-tripping, and manipulative.
Donald Trump certainly has manifested the negative sides of Jyestha.
I hope that this set of examples helps illustrate the principle that placement can make a generally challenging Nakshatra manifest in very positive ways, and vice versa. And that the principle applies to houses too.
(E.g. Trump manifests the rejection of the 12th house’s positive themes: he is not spiritual, or charitable, or compassionate.)